Education Minister’s local language directive has been taken out of context

Senior Lecturer at the Department of Linguistics Kofi Agyekum, University of Ghana has said the Education Minister Prof Jane Naana Opoku Agyeman’s directive that heads and teachers should desist from using English has the sole medium of instruction has been taken out of context.

He corrected that what the minister wants to put across is not to stop teaching English in schools but to introduce it gradually after the child has become conversant with the local language.

Speaking on Peace FMs morning show ‘Kokrokoo’ Prof Agyekum said the accepted method of teaching is to use the local language as the sole medium of instruction from primary one to primary two.

This he says, is to ensure that by the time the child leaves Primary Three he or she will be conversant with their local dialect.  The English language can be introduced in subsequent classes.

The directive by the Education Minister cautioning heads and teachers to desist from using English as the sole medium of education has been interpreted by many as an instruction to stop the use of English language as the the primary means of teaching and learning in schools.

She made the comments at a ceremony to mark the beginning of the assessment of teachers for the 2014 National Best Teacher’s Awards where she said “when we teach children in languages they do not understand, teaching and learning does not take place and frustrations begin to build”.

Stressing her point, Prof Agyekum said children are able to capture any language at a tender age because at that time the child knows no prejudice and therefore will be willing to learn, “every child is a potential bilingual”.

Adults on the other hand he added, tend to choose what language to learn due to various reasons they may have develop as they grow.

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